off camera flash

Dramatic Model Portraits // Chicago // Mark Brouwer

My series in dramatic portraiture continues with Mark Brouwer - a model from Chicago with comedy and acting skills. So imagine this session: photography, laughter, fun conversation, and music - life is really good when these elements come together. Mark was fun to work with - he kept things lively, and I appreciate that. I am typically the one making sure everyone is laughing at my photo shoots. So having Mark contribute to the liveliness that day was really fun.

I wanted to create some dark images with Mark. I asked if he could bring clothing that would work well with the "dark" themed photo shoot, which led to a conversation about what I meant by "dark". He mentioned that he had a dark green trench coat. Perfect. The trench coat ended up looking great on screen. I also wanted the lighting to be more harsh than with my previous dramatic shoots. I made sure to stay away from softboxes and only used gridspots and bare-bulbs on my strobes.

You can check out photos from previous model photo shoots: Camille Kurowski, Debra Lopez, and Ankita Baxti.

Here are a few of my favorite images from our photo shoot with Mark. The final composite images will be on a new blog post soon:

[gallery columns="1" size="large"]

Behind The Scenes


My many thanks to Mark for his professionalism and humor! I hope you have an amazing career in modeling and acting. You rock dude! And a super thank you to my amazing wife, Christina, for being so supportive, for doing a great job on Mark's hair, and for rocking out the Flip Mino HD. Thanks babe!

The Set-Up

  • Nikon D700 - Shooting in RAW
  • Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 lens
  • Alien Bee 400ws (5 strobes)
  • Medium Softbox (2)
  • 22" Beauty Dish
  • Pocket Wizard (2)
  • 13" MacBook
  • Sofortbild - For shooting tethered to my MacBook. It's free for Nikon shooters!
  • Lightroom 2 - For exposure and color adjustments
  • Photoshop CS4 - For all major retouching and background removal
  • Rock On! info [at] ottorascon.com | my portfolio | facebook | twitter | 773.430.4785

    By The Way:

    Dramatic Model Portraits // Chicago // Ankita Baxi

    My series in dramatic portraiture continues with Ankita Baxi. I was very excited about working with Ankita. She has done a lot of modeling photo shoots here in the States and in India. Her energy and enthusiasm was very encouraging and made for some pretty cool photos. Ankita's communication skills also added to the great experience - she was very prompt and concise in answering all of my questions and even throwing in a few of her own. I love that. She is a pro and it was a lot of fun working with her. You can see photos from the previous photo shoots with Camille here and with Debra here.

    Here are a few of my favorite images from our photo shoot with Ankita. The final composite images will be on a new blog post soon:

    [gallery columns="1" size="large"]

    Behind The Scenes


    My many thanks to Ankita! I hope you have an amazing and long career in this industry. Have a great time in Los Angeles. You rock! I also want to thank Gary Middendorf for his assistance, video skills, and ideas. And of course a super thank you to my wife, Christina, for being so supportive and for doing a great job on Ankita's hair. Thanks guys!

    The Set-Up

  • Nikon D700 - Shooting in RAW
  • Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 lens
  • Alien Bee 400ws (5 strobes)
  • Medium Softbox (2)
  • 22" Beauty Dish
  • Pocket Wizard (2)
  • Lightroom 2 - For exposure and color adjustments
  • Photoshop CS4 - For all major retouching and background removal
  • 13" MacBook
  • Sofortbild - For shooting tethered to my MacBook. It's free for Nikon shooters!
  • Rock On! info [at] ottorascon.com | my portfolio | facebook | twitter | 773.430.4785

    By The Way: Talking about the shoot in advance with Ankita was HUGE. I felt like Ankita and I were on the same page before she showed up at my home-studio. That was great because I was able to communicate better and express some ideas a lot clearer.

    Dramatic Portraits // Chicago // Debra Lopez

    So my series in dramatic portraits continues with Debra Lopez, a very talented model and actress from Madison, Wisconsin. Working with Debra (and her husband - pics coming soon) was great for many reasons: she is a very talented and professional model, she was very enthusiastic about this shoot (which pumped me up), and she had a great sense of wardrobe and looks that made photographing her a lot of fun. We ended up capturing some really fun and amazing frames during our 2 hours photo shoot. I love these kind of shoots because we get so many ideas going that it is hard to stop shooting. My wife set out some snacks and drinks, which we ended up maxing out! Pedro (Deb's husband), Gary, and I even chatted a bit about football and Peyton Manning. Photography, beautiful models, food, and sports - does life get any better than that? The answer is NO.

    Hey, you can check out a very funny short film called "Spin Cycle" Debra starred in here. Her character is so mean :)

    Here are a few of my favorite images from our photo shoot. The final composite images will be on a new blog post soon:

    [gallery columns="1" size="large" orderby="title"]

    Behind The Scenes


    My many thanks to Debra! You and Pedro made this shoot a blast, and I appreciate your willingness to travel into Chicago. You rock! I also want to thank Gary Middendorf for his assistance and ideas. It is always so cool working with a fellow photographer. And of course a super thank you to my wife, Christina, for being so supportive and for doing a great job on Deb's hair. Thanks guys!

    The Set-Up

  • Nikon D700 - Shooting in RAW
  • Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 lens
  • Alien Bee 400ws (5 strobes)
  • Medium Softbox (2)
  • 22" Beauty Dish
  • Pocket Wizard (2)
  • Lightroom 2 - For exposure and color adjustments
  • Photoshop CS4 - For all major retouching and background removal
  • 13" MacBook
  • Sofortbild - For shooting tethered to my MacBook. It's free for Nikon shooters!
  • Rock On! info@ottorascon.com | my portfolio | facebook | twitter | 773.430.4785

    By The Way: Talking with Debra about her wardrobe was key. Not having the right wardrobe would have made this shoot boring and flat. It's all about communication.

    Dramatic Portraits // Headshots // Camille Kurowski

    I was really excited about Camille's photo shoot. She is a very professional, beautiful, and enthusiastic model and I am very grateful to have worked with her. She came in ready to deliver a great performance and that she did. It is always such a treat to work with others that are just as passionate about this art form as I am. This photo shoot was going to be a bit different than what I am used to. First: it is the first shoot in a series (yes, more photos coming very soon) of dramatic portraits and model headshots. I have never done a series like this before, so this was new ground for me. Second: it was going to involve a lot of post-production (Photoshop) work, of which I am used to. The end result of this shoot is to create a composite image with a completely new background and a more dramatic feel. I will be posting the final images soon.

    This headshot/portrait session was intended to be more artistic in nature and so all of the pieces had to work well together: a great model, a specific type of lighting set-up, great hair and make-up, energy, and me not messing it up :)

    It was great having my amazing hairstylist wife there and my talented brother-in-law (a very talented sports photographer) there to assist.

    Here are a few images from our shoot. The final composite images will be on a new blog post soon:

    [gallery order="DESC" columns="1" size="large"]

    Behind The Scenes


    My many thanks to Camille! You made this shoot so much fun. I also want to thank Gary Middendorf for his assistance and ideas. And a super thank you to my wife, Christina, for being so supportive and for doing a great job on Camille's hair. Thanks guys!

    The Set-Up

  • Nikon D700 - Shooting in RAW
  • Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 lens
  • Tokina 14-24mm f/4 lens
  • Alien Bee 400ws (5 strobes)
  • Medium Softbox (2)
  • 22" Beauty Dish
  • Pocket Wizard (2)
  • Lightroom 2 - For exposure and color adjustments
  • Photoshop CS4 - For all major retouching and background removal
  • 13" MacBook
  • Sofortbild - For shooting tethered to my MacBook. It's free for Nikon shooters!
  • Rock On! info@ottorascon.com | my portfolio | facebook | twitter | 773.430.4785

    By The Way: It was great sketching out pose ideas and lighting ideas before the shoot. I was also able to do some test shots before Camille ever came over.

    Wedding Rings are Beautiful - Chicago Wedding Photography

    Wedding rings are truly works of art. I have really come to appreciate my bride and grooms rings this year. I remember going to the jeweler to pick out my wife's ring. I was so nervous and very conscience of aesthetics and price. This was a major purchase for me and I wanted to make sure that I purchased the PERFECT ring. This line of thinking has helped me focus more on the rings, placing them in beautiful backgrounds and giving them the spotlight they deserve. Here are just a few of my favorites for this year. [gallery link="file" columns="1" orderby="title" size="large"]

    The Set-Up

  • Nikon D700
  • Nikon SB-800 - Triggered via Nikon CLS. There was no light modifier on the flash.
  • Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 lens
  • Rock On! info@ottorascon.com | my portfolio | facebook | twitter | 773.430.4785

    The "Anti-Vanilla" Shoot // West Loop Photography

    So what on earth does "Anti-Vanilla" mean? Well, I am glad you asked :) I met with Brittany (the model) a few weeks back and I was asking her a handful of questions about our upcoming shoot. This is customary as I want to make sure that my shoot doesn't stink and I miss the mark on what my client wants.

    So Brittany shows me her comp card and says that she wants to do something "different," something a bit more "edgy" than she is used to. I take a look at her card and say "these images are very nice and Vanilla." So we brain storm a bit more about a theme and the phrase "Anti-Vanilla" comes out of my mouth. We both liked it and off we went.

    Here are a few images from our shoot. I love this industrial area in the West Loop. It had the perfect look and feel of what Brittany wanted. I had a really great time with Brittany. She is a very professional young lady and came to the shoot with ideas and energy. I also want to thank Oscar, my art-school homeboy, and assistant for the day. It was pretty rad working together with him. [gallery size="large" columns="1" orderby="title"]

    This last image was pure gangsta' fun. I am glad that Brittany and Oscar were willing to pose with me.

    Lightroom Preset Download I created a preset for this last image. I thought this image would be perfect for a thug/edgy/desaturated look. Give it a try and let me know how you used this preset. Download the "Anti-Vanilla" preset for Lightroom

    The Set-Up

  • Nikon D700
  • Nikon Sb-800 used in slave mode
  • Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 lens
  • Tokina 14-24mm f/4 lens (I love this lens)
  • Alien Bee 400 powered by The Vagabond II
  • Medium Softbox
  • Pocket Wizard (2)
  • Rock On! info@ottorascon.com | my portfolio | facebook | twitter | 773.430.4785

    The "Criminal" Photo Shoot

    This shoot took place on the Amtrak rails. About an hour into the shoot we were stopped by the all might Amtrak Police! The photo shoot was cut short and we were all given an "insightful" lecture about the dangers of being around the tracks. Fun Times. Click here to see the rest of the shoot.